“Love doesn’t make the world go round, love is what makes the ride worthwhile.” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning
I’ve never been in love. Well, with one possible exception, but that’s a very long, complicated story that’s best left unspoken.
I’m 26 years old, and I’ve never dated. And by that, I mean I’ve never been on a single date. Which I suppose has a few advantages. I’ve never had to experience an awkward, uncomfortable first date. I’ve never had to worry about whether or not I should kiss my date at the end of the night or if we’ll both tilt our heads in the same direction, resulting in a devastating nose bump from which there’s no recovery. I’ve never had to worry about meeting anyone’s parents or that I might say something to embarrass myself – well, okay, that one’s pretty much inevitable.
But I’ve also never even experienced my first kiss. How very Drew Barrymore of me. (Side note: I kinda like her and her many quirks.) And at this rate, one day it’ll also be very Steve Carell of me.
And though I go back and forth on how I feel about this, I think I’m actually kind of okay with it. Because while it sucks to never experience mankind’s deepest, most important, and most powerful emotion, I’d rather never experience it than experience the twisted version many people nowadays seem to have.
Yes, just because I’ve never been in love doesn’t mean I don’t understand the emotion. Which is more than I can say for most people.
First and foremost, people are so afraid of not being in a relationship. Why? For one thing, because they define themselves by their relationship status. If they’re not dating someone, people wonder why. “Is there something wrong with her?” “Is he gay?” “Does she drive people away?” “Is he secretly seeing a married woman?” “Is she an alien from the planet Flaflooga?” Well, maybe not that last one. But many people are driven to be in a relationship just because of public appearance.
And, of course, there’s the introverted factor, as well. They’re afraid of being alone. Which is understandable, but not being in a relationship doesn’t mean you’re alone. But it makes people ask themselves, “Why doesn’t anyone want to date me? Is there something wrong with me? Do I drive people away? Am I actually an ali—” Well, you get the idea. Which motivates people to look even harder.
And one thing I’ve definitely figured out from observation is that you cannot go searching for love. When you do, you settle for something that merely resembles it. Love isn’t something you can make happen. It’s something that you have to allow to take its own course. It’s a force unto itself, more powerful, perhaps, than gravity.
But people try to force it anyway, and we hear more all-too-familiar quotes – “He’s not too bad. I can change him.” “Her quirks don’t bother me that much.” “Once he settles down with me, he’ll grow up.” “Once she and I start living together, I’ll get used to it.” After all, this is what we’re “supposed to do.”
And this, friends, can be summed up in one very simple word: “Settling.” And settling is fine, if you’re picking a laundry detergent or a restaurant or an internet provider or which candy bar you’re having on your lunch break. But when you’re talking about the person with whom you plan to spend the rest of your life – well, I’d say that’s one time you should never settle.
Piece of advice: If you feel like you have to change the person you’re with, or if you feel you have to change against your will in order to make a relationship work, you’re probably not in love. When you’re in love, there’s no doubt. There’s no question. You look at them and there’s nothing you care about changing. Does that mean they’re perfect? Of course not. No one is. But you love them despite their flaws – or possibly because of them. And if they never change, you just don’t care.
They say relationships take work. And I’m sure that’s true. Sometimes you’ll have to do things you don’t want to do. But there’s a rather significant line between “work” and “This is driving me crazy!” Learn to recognize that line.
Honestly, I’d much rather be single for the rest of my life than experience some cheap imitation of love. Because even though I’m single, I’m not alone. I do have friends and family who care about me, who spend time with me, and with whom I can enjoy life. And that is what’s truly important in life.
I just refuse to settle when it comes to love.
Or what candy bar I’m having on my lunch break. It’s gotta be the Milky Way.
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